Sunday, November 19, 2017


It's Hercules!

Deathbringer is a horizontally scrolling hack and slasher that reminds me of a bunch of different Atari ST games like Barbarian II, Golden Axe and, dare I say it, Shadow Of The Beast. You are Karn, a warrior who must kill an evil wizard using a sword possessed by a blood-hungry spirit called Abaddon. Our world is viewed side-on and can be travelled in either direction through a variety of landscapes but the gameplay remains much the same which means wielding your huge sword whenever you see anything nasty. I'm liking the sound of this slasher already!!

Karn can run and jump using three attack moves: fire + left/right for a jab that is handy against skeletons but useless for others. Push up for an overhead swing - great for flying enemies. Pull down for an underhanded swing that works well for the goblins and other peculiar nasties like rocks. Yep, rocks.

Killing is the name of the game to keep Abaddon happily stuffed with souls - represented in the status bar by the sword's blood. The more baddies you kill, the happier our resident demon is, try not to starve him otherwise he might just get his fix elsewhere. There are many monsters that want to stop you from completing your noble quest: baby dragons, trolls, skeletons, bats, giants, and even birds who drop stinky eggs. A boss screen follows each level but they are rather easy!

I think it's time for some extraordinary screenshots. Breathe. Now, check this out...

Psygnosis eat your heart out!

Deathbringer has fantastic graphics - truly fantastic - and regular visitors will remember I featured the game within our Pixel Art section because of its intro/boss stages and other outstanding artwork. The in-game multilayer parallax scrolling is legendary and proves the power of the Atari ST in the hands of a decent programmer.

Aesthetically, this game makes the lame ST port of Shadow Of The Beast look like Pong!!

The audio is on par with the stunning visuals and a great title tune along with lots of funny in-game sampled sound effects - I love the horrific screaming in the intro!! However, I can't help but be disappointed Empire didn't make use of the Atari STe. Even so, we have sampled effects and smooth parallax scrolling. Eat that Psygnosis!

See what the Atari ST is capable of when in the hands of talent. Well, let's just check out another screenshot...

The CryptO'pinion?

Deathbringer appears to have it all but I've not yet mentioned how this Conan wannabe actually plays. Surely running and hacking at slimeball enemies is guaranteed fun? Well, it should be but this is where disappointment rears its ugly head thanks to the unresponsive controls and that's the last thing you need during the heat of battle!

For example, press fire/up for an overhead swing which actions a split-second later. Other niggles exist like when Karn and a baddie are standing too close - so are unable to hit each other!

Deathbringer's strong points are its beautiful graphics, great sound effects and an incredible array of interesting monsters. Well, I don't think I have ever seen a goblin on a sleigh before! Sadly, I'm left wondering if anyone at Empire actually bothered to play this game before releasing it. Probably not, which is oddly peculiar. With a little tweak here and there...

Ultimately, a very good game but the laggy controls ruin what might have been a tremendous experience.

Stonish has the floppies (Special FX (#53a / #53b)
But I would install it on a hard drive if you can!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017


Let's go way back...

I strangely felt the need to compensate for my recent gaming horror (watch me embarrassingly struggling with Platform Capers). So, Dave Munsie has rushed to the rescue with his adaption of the 8-Bit classic, Berzerk. However, I admit I had my fingers crossed when first loading - hoping it didn't suck compared to the great 2600/5200 games!!

Once again, we are the wobbly stickman intruder running through randomly generated screens killing robots. Interestingly, these robot guys are a mixed bunch - some dumb enough to fry themselves on the electrified walls, whilst others are amazingly accurate shooters. Try to kill them all and collect the bonus reward otherwise, you're called a chicken!! Otto is as fearless as ever and only too eager to rear his smiley mug and chase you across the screen.

Some (those under 40) might scoff at the boring and blocky graphics. Yes, I appreciate that they aren't spruced up to ST standards but that would have ruined the authenticity completely. Also, I love the speech synthesis which is spot-on perfect and makes me grin like the Cheshire Cat. "Chicken, fight like a robot" -this is brilliant and I love it all!!

Berzerk is fantastic. This is one of the best 8-bit conversions I have ever played. An easy 10/10 from me!!

- Download the floppies from Atarilegend -

Shoot those angry robots before they shoot you!

Then again, some will kill themselves cos they're stoopid!

Monday, November 13, 2017

Platform Capers

My ST turned into a 2600!

Platform Capers was released in 1992 by Kay Downes for Budgie UK and has obvious 8-Bit roots which is something I'm instantly attracted to. Aesthetically, I feel it's a cross between Clod Hopper, Jumping Jack and Donkey Kong with adorable authentic graphics and sound effects. These transport me back to the early 80s when I was a kid sitting in my cold room in front of an old portable tv waiting for my Speccy to finish loading from tape.

The objective is simple, collect the keys on each of the levels before exiting through the doorway. However, there is a myriad of frustratingly cunning enemies we need to avoid. Touch one and a life is lost and we go tumbling down the screen like a fat plumber. It's brilliant and classically old school gameplay. However, it's very hard...

I believe there are 7 levels but I dare anyone to complete this game without resorting to a cheat!! At best, I have reach level 4. However, I more often than not, will struggle to complete level 3, if I'm honest. On bad days, I can struggle to beat level 2 and usually end up throwing the joystick down in temper!

Superbly programmed but the design is far too difficult. I love & hate Platform Capers in equal measure.

Sunday, November 12, 2017


I was bored and converted a picture I found on the internet to 16 colours using Imagecopy 4. I figured it would make a great wallpaper background so I booted up Deskpic - which is on ST Format cover disk #60. Awesome sauce!

That's my rock and roll lifestyle, baby. Yep. Anyhow, that's enough for today. STay Atari.

Sunday, November 05, 2017

The Lost World

Yet another unreleased game!

The Lost World was developed in 1989 by John Leather who, sadly, didn't manage to find a publisher. The game itself is complete, except for the audio and he "only" managed to create half of the planned 100 levels. What a slacker, eh? I've always loved platformers of this ilk and it's obvious that John was inspired by various 8-Bit games with superb level names and a character that even walks quite similar to Master Willy, which I liked.

Since then, Grazey added an unreleased Mad Max chiptune that plays in the background. This ended the deafening silence and suits the gameplay too. So, I just had to tick this off my bucket list and take it for a spin...

Just look at the intricate layout and design. You ain't gonna complete this on your first go!!

Let's begin!

The Lost World is very challenging and I admit to struggling at first. The first screen is tough and it took me more than a few attempts before I beat it. Thankfully, this game is generous with many bonuses littered throughout along with stickmen for extra lives. Pressing the spacebar displays a dialogue of potential spells and potions for effects like invulnerability. Also, I love how each screen has a different name, like Pie Processing Plant!!

The controls are superb with simple movements that feel natural for a 2D platformer. You'll appreciate that because the level design is very cunning with lots of hazards, be it a sharp object, sinking ledges or tricky jumps. Evil critters roam the screens and they aren't limited to simply moving back 'n forth. Did I mention this was a tough platformer? Well, level two is actually a little easier but the third cranked up that difficulty once again. Sadly, I didn't beat 'The Locksmith' so I fear it's doubtful I'll be disappointed John didn't fulfil the plan to create more screens!

Perhaps I should try the level editor? Yep, if dozens of levels aren't enough for you, then why not try creating some for yourself using the in-game editor? That's quite exciting and the potential is huge!

Whatever you do, don't forget the keys... What's the little man doing there?

Willy's mansion never looked this good!

The graphics are a true 16-Bit spin on an 8-Bit genre and look lovely. Every screen is stuffed to the brim with incredible decor using intricate attention to detail. I love the colour schemes and the sprites move smoothly.

Audio never made it into the original and made your Atari ST as loud as a ZX81. Thankfully, Grazey (Psycho Hacking Force) changed that so we now get to enjoy a fantastic Mad Max chiptune. It's brilliant, of course, but I admit to missing sound effects for the jumping and collisions. I know, I'm being picky but I do miss those effects.

That purple flying monster is a pain in the £@$!! and killed me more than once!

The CryptO'pinion?

For a homebrew game, this is huge and I don't simply mean the number of levels. The creativity that went into its development is exquisite and there is always something new that catches you out and drags you back for more. However, it is really hard so be warned!! But please, don't be a wimp, learn the mechanics and beat its cruel learning curve.

When you do, you are rewarded with a tremendously addictive platformer. Step back in time and enjoy this great game!

D-Bug has both of the downloads and
AtariMania has level editor help!

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

The Ultimate Arena

Wax on, wax off...

The Ultimate Arena was released in 1995 by STeam and must rank as one of the last commercial releases. It's a beat'em up and the first thing to do is choose our character: Sandy or Terry. Now we can proceed to the first match against a series of dodgy villains, each of whom has their own skillset and special abilities. Some might say it is Atari Mortal Kombat and, why not because we fight in various arenas against several lunatics whilst watched by a bloodthirsty crowd.

Each arena offers a different environment and I chuckled to myself when I noticed the electrified fence - just one touch and you're crispy burnt toast!! Each warrior has their own trippy personality with a varying degree of speed, talent and special abilities. Watch out for a T800 which I thought was really well done and there is also an Indiana Jones wannabe who is an incredibly tough opponent. Interestingly, your energy bar isn't fully replenished at the start of the following round, thus increasing longevity for determined gamers to figure out all the moves. This is a fun beat'em up!

Now let's check out a couple of screenshots of a Terminator and some silly fighting...

Whether you're Samantha Fox or a Terminator - this game is kick ass!! Love it!!

Showing off some cool moves there? Or is he just defying gravity? You decide.

Don’t forget to breathe, very important!

No beat 'em up would be worth its salt without fast and responsive controls to kick seven bells outta your opponent. The Ultimate Arena has what it takes and I found it easy to learn the various moves along with their special abilities. The two-player mode is great and allows us to play as the other characters (all except the final guy). A turbo mode is optional but I found that pointless so I cannot say I was impressed too much. Blood can also be turned on/off (what... why?)

Like Domark's Pit Fighter, each character is digitised and they try their best to look macho whilst kicking seven bells outta you. It's quite remarkable the amount of detail squeezed into each pixel with smooth animations and the backgrounds are always interesting: like the Terminator watching you on a screen and the crowd with their silly movements. However, I'm not so sure about the colour palette which is too brownish. Okay, I was tempted to let that slide but then I remembered other Atari ST games make better use of colour, ala Black Lamp. Yeah, umm, it is rather too brown!

Let's kick, punch and electrify through a couple more screenshots...

Kick people to death while they're already being electrocuted. It's all allowed!!

Or just pounce from a great height until they are splattered. All good fun!

The CryptO'pinion?

As I've said in the past, I'm no expert when it comes to beat 'em up games. However, I am genuinely shocked at how much fun I've had with this Mortal Kombat wannabe. I half expected it to suck, especially being released long after the gaming side of the ST had died. Surprisingly, even though the STe has no hardware to move the sprites, it's shockingly entertaining so has possibly replaced Double Dragon 3 as my favourite from this genre?

Also, I love how it doesn't take itself too seriously and the fact I can try my luck against a Terminator is kinda cool. It's obvious that a lot of hard work and love went into its production - and all during the twilight years which is extra impressive. Beating the hell out of digitised guys is a great way to spend a couple of hours!! Play this.

The floppies can be found via Old Games Finder. (but stay away of the early beta version as it's rubbish!)

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